Learning how to coexist with anxiety, the battle within  


The air in the room feels too thin, and I can’t seem to catch a breath of fresh air. My arms become numb as a nauseous feeling fills my stomach. I look around to see if anyone notices me as a million thoughts race through my head. 

Illustration by ElissaEisele

“Is she looking at me?” 

“Does she think I’m weird?” 

“She definitely thinks I’m weird.” 

Sometimes it’s like a flick of a switch, other times it’s like something caught in trap wire triggering it. 

The first time my anxiety really became clear to me was when I was 10 at a sleepover. My best friend at the time and her sister began arguing, and suddenly I was on the verge of a panic attack. 

I ended up begging my mom to come get me and throwing up in my pillowcase on the way home. After that, I was afraid to sleep over at anyone’s house ever again. 

The next time I had a panic attack was in sixth grade at Vala’s Pumpkin Patch. Everything seemed fine until I was in tears, hunched over and calling my mom to pick me up early because I couldn’t stand being there for another second. I was embarrassed and worried that all of my friends would begin to judge me. But they didn’t. It was just another anxious thought that made me feel like an outsider. 

Over the summer, I traveled without my mom for the first time. Leading up to the trip, I was anxious about flying on a plane and exploring a new place. 

The first night I woke up in a panic, hearing people party outside echo in my ears and feeling my blanket weigh down on my body. 

I instantly picked up my phone to message my mom, but I knew it would just cause her unnecessary worry. 

The next morning I woke up feeling unburdened. The pressure from my chest was lifted. I realized I didn’t need my mom every step of the way to help me climb my mountain of anxiety. 

From then on, I knew that I was able to push past my anxious moments. Even now, there are times when I wake up in the morning feeling so anxious that I lay in bed for hours until I finally feel better, causing me to lose out on half of my day, or the times when I can’t hang out with my friends because of the knots in my stomach. 

According to a report just released this month by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) based on data gathered in 2021, female teens are more likely than their male counterparts to experience poor mental health. Overall, 29% of high school students experienced poor mental health. 

When I start hyperventilating or begin to feel nauseous, I remember that there are people to support me. I notice my surroundings and ground myself in the moment. Instead of fighting my anxiety, I’ve learned to coexist with my anxiety.

CDC report

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